Tag Archives: Attention

Paying Heed

The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they gave no heed.
2 Chronicles 33:10 (NRSVCE)

I had the lunch earlier this week with a young father. He and his wife have a two-year-old daughter. Over lunch we talked about some of the life lessons I’ve learned as a father. Chief among them is that, as followers of Jesus, we believe that “we are not our own but have been bought with a price.” In the same way I believe our children are not ours. They are a gift of God that we are called upon to steward in order that each child might follow God on their own respective journeys. The hard lesson is accepting that my child’s path may not look like the path I would choose for her.

In that vein, I often found myself sharing sage advice and wise counsel with my children. In many cases, the wisdom was born out of my own tragic mistakes and important life lessons. And, quite often, they paid no heed.

Welcome to parenting.

In today’s chapter the Chronicler shares the story of Mannasseh, the son of good King Hezekiah. We don’t know all of the circumstances of the relationship between father and son, but we do know from doing the math that Mannaseh was born when Hezekiah was in his early forties. Hezekiah had a great track record for following God and doing things by the Book. There was even that improbable deliverance from the evil Assyrians we read about yesterday. Talk about a great example to follow.

But, Mannaseh paid no heed to his father, to his father’s legacy, or to his father’s God. The Chronicler says that God spoke to Mannaseh and to the people, but he paid no heed.

Another lesson I’ve learned in parenting is that we often expect our children to behave differently than we, ourselves, behaved in childhood. It’s the “do as I say not as I did when I was your age (not that you’ll ever find out about that if I can help it)” principle. But I was like that. I had my own experiences with paying no heed to my parents, my grandparents and God. It’s part of my journey and a big part of those life lessons that led to wisdom.

This morning in the quiet I’m thinking about myself, not as a father but as the child of God that I still am. I can’t forget that Jesus said becoming like children is required if we want to be part of the Kingdom. Are there places, even now, in which Father God is speaking, whispering sage advice into my spirit, offering me wisdom from His Message…

…and I’m paying no heed?

Closer than I Realize

Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away.
Deuteronomy 30:11 (NRSV)

There were often times when the girls were quite small that I would quietly be present observing and watching over them. They were oblivious to my presence, their attention drawn to shiny things, new things, and the struggle to stand and walk. Their eyes and hearts were fixed on the exploration of the world that existed just 0-24 inches from the ground. There I hovered, quietly watching and wordlessly removing dangerous objects from their path before they got there. I was intent on their growth, their maturity, and their well-being. In the moment, they had no idea.

I remember the early days of my faith journey. I had decided to follow Jesus and it all seemed so new and unexpected. At the same time, I began to look back with unveiled eyes and to realize all of the ways that my Heavenly Father had been there all along. I could, in retrospect, see how things had been ordered to bring me to this place without my even knowing it.

In today’s chapter, Moses reminds God’s people that the things of God are “not too hard” nor are they “too far away.” So often I, like a small child, allow my eyes and heart to be captivated by shiny things, new things, and those things which exists just 0-72 inches from the ground. My Heavenly Father, crowded out of my vision and consciousness, is ever-present and intent upon my protection, my growth, and my maturity, even when I am oblivious in the moment.

Today, I am thankful that God, and all that God has to offer, is closer and more easily accessible than I perceive or believe in the moment.

chapter a day banner 2015

Hit Your Cue

southpacificThere is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

       a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
       a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
       a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
       a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
       a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
       a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
       a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

 The musical was South Pacific and I was playing Captain Brackett.  One particular scene in the show begins with a meeting in Brackett’s office between Brackett and three other characters. As the lights came up on the scene that night it was clear that someone was not at the meeting. It happened to be the gentleman playing Commander Harbison, Captain Bracket’s next in command. There are few experiences more terrifying to actors on stage than when someone misses his or her entrance. My fellow actors, aware that something was desperately wrong, held their focus well, but I could see in their eyes that they were having the same “Oh shit” moment that I was.

So, I did what military officers do. I started screaming. I stood, slammed my hand on my desk, and went into a full out crusty sailor rant.

“Where’s Harbison?! WHERE THE HELL IS HARBISON!?”

I knew that Dayrel Gates, who played my admin Yeoman Quale, was standing just off stage because I’d passed him during the scene change.

“QUALE?! QUALE GET IN HERE!!”

Dayrel immediately ran in and stood at attention like a terrified sailor.

“FIND HARBISON AND GET HIM IN HERE NOW!!”

Dayrel was brilliant. He picked right up on what I was doing, gave me an “Aye Captain!” salute and exited. As soon as he exited the stage he started yelling in the wings. “Commander Harbison!? FIND COMMANDER HARBISON!” Others cast members who realized what was happening started yelling for Commander Harbison as well and you could hear their screams in the hallway outside the auditorium as if an entire platoon of personnel were scrambling around the camp looking for the tardy Commander. It didn’t take long before the actor playing Commander Harbison came running on stage. He was out of breath, sweating profusely, and in a full panic. It turned out he had stepped out between scenes for a smoke and didn’t realize it was his cue.

When you’re on stage you learn that one of the fundamental essentials is to hit your cue and make your entrance on time. It’s critical to the success of the show. Bad things happen when you miss your cue.

Solomon’s words are brilliant and powerful in the simplicity of the truth he communicates. Timing is critical to almost every season and to every element of life. There is a time for everything. I have learned, however, that attention, observation, introspection, and wisdom are required to discern the time you are in and to respond accordingly.

All the world is a stage, as the Bard said, and we are all players in it. It’s fundamentally critical to success that we hit our cues in life. Bad things happen when we don’t.